School Closure Update – March 17, 2020

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Team Chesterfield staff,

Thank you for your continued work on behalf of our students, families and community! We are appreciative of our Team Chesterfield heroes who continue to prepare and serve meals to students who need them, and our rock star educators (teachers, support staff and administrators) who continue to provide learning opportunities and support to our community’s youngest residents.

Below are updates regarding guidance we have received so far from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), and the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE).

School calendar and makeup days

Please know that we do understand the uneasiness that the uncertainty of future schedules can bring.

We continue to follow guidance from health experts and the local, state, and federal governments regarding school closures and makeup time. This guidance was released by VDOE on March 13: “Per the Governor’s order related to the state of emergency, the State Superintendent will work with school divisions to provide flexibility via waivers for the school hours missed during the Governor’s order and for other school closures related to COVID-19.”

As soon as calendar decisions are known, they will be communicated to staff and families. Attempting to answer anything past today is tricky, given the speed with which things are changing.

Work provided to students during the closure

As a friendly reminder, staff members are expected to continue to be available to students while working from home during this closure. We also appreciate that some teachers have communicated specific “office hours” to families so that students know when they will be available to provide support and don’t mistakenly believe that teachers are available 24/7.

However, as shared with building leaders last week, students should NOT be assigned new work during the current school closure. Work should be review, remedial, or enriching in nature.

This guidance was released by VDOE on March 13: “Should there be extended closures beyond the current order the VDOE encourages school divisions to consider options and ideas to engage students in reading, thinking, and learning. Creating such opportunities should be done with careful consideration of providing equitable access and support for a variety of students. Due to the waivers that will be granted for school closures related to COVID-19, schools should not consider strategies for continuity of learning as make-up days.”

Also, assessments should not be given and grades should not be recorded during this closure. This is an equity concern, as noted by DOE, for students who require learning accommodations and students who do not have access to the Internet while at home.

Internet services

We continue to share opportunities for students to remain engaged online during this school closure. Last week, families were provided information about the low-cost Internet Essentials program. Yesterday, families were provided information about Comcast hotspots that have opened across the county for those who need Internet access.

Due to social distancing recommendations provided by the CDC, please DO NOT encourage students to visit public places to access the Internet.

End-of-year testing

We also continue to await guidance regarding a variety of testing that is administered during the latter part of the school year (Standards of Learning, AP, SAT, etc.).

This guidance was released last week by the VDOE: “Staff from the VDOE are evaluating options to provide flexibility in meeting testing requirements for the Standards of Learning tests, the Virginia Alternate Assessment Program and the ACCESS for ELs test administered to English Learners. More information and guidance will be provided as it becomes available.”

This guidance was released yesterday by the College Board: “The AP Program is developing resources to help schools support student learning during extended closures, as well as a solution that would allow students to test at home, depending on the situation in May. Additional information will be posted by March 20.” We will review this information as it is available, and will update the staff and community with division plans as they become available.

We certainly understand the pressures associated with students passing these tests, but again ask that you do not provide any new curriculum to students at this time.

Stay well!

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